October 16, 2021
All FOP3 Members,
As a result of the unfair labor practice filed by FOP3 on Thursday night, the City took an emergency step and decided to meet with us yesterday to answer our critical questions about the City’s COVID vaccination policy. As a result, we will no longer need to file an additional Court action to bring the City to the table.
I will say that, despite this meeting, I remain frustrated at the City’s implementation of this procedure as it appears they have not fully considered its consequences or how to ensure that it works smoothly. We are certain that the City & BPD will have to make numerous revisions and provide additional guidance for this policy to work properly; however, based on the commitments made at today’s meeting, we believe there is sufficient information to move forward.
What to Expect.
As it stands, the Policy will be implemented on Monday. (10/18/2021). Our impression is that the City has many unanswered questions and that the policy is so vague as to preclude any disciplinary action from being taken against you. We expect that the City will be providing additional guidance over the weekend and early next week about the policy and procedures. We will remain in communication with them throughout the weekend and early next week to address questions and concerns, as they arise.
There is no requirement that you provide your vaccination status but if you do not you will simply be treated as an unvaccinated person for the purposes of the policy. Individuals without a vaccination confirmation upload will receive a notification to schedule a weekly test. Test sites will be available throughout the City in close proximity to all districts and work assignments. You will have the ability to schedule a testing time at a location that is available near you. All testing will be during work time and at the City’s expense. No member will be required to use leave or get tested outside of work hours, or to pay for a test.
There do remain unanswered questions as to how this will work, especially if an employee is delayed or prevented from attending their appointment due to an unavoidable conflict (e.g., Court, long call for service, etc.). We also have questions about officers assigned to midnight shifts or outside of normal business hours. The City has committed to negotiating the policy and procedures to address these concerns and come to a reasonable solution for all sides.
Many members expressed concern about uploading their vaccination confirmation into Workday. After today’s discussion, we have learned that the City encrypts this information and it is only visible to HR personnel who handle medical information, i.e., the same people who handle accommodation requests and your other medical records on file (e.g. FMLA). It is not visible to other HR staff, supervisors, district staff, or even the Commissioner. As a result, it is adequately protected as required by law.
Note that you are not required to upload your vaccination status; if you do not, you will simply be required to test weekly. I again reiterate this is your individual choice, and FOP 3 will be there to support you.
The Department has committed to providing release time for unvaccinated employees to receive a vaccine during work hours. For midnight shift officers, we are negotiating how such release time will be provided.
Existing COVID policies will remain for officers who test positive, including whether COVID leave, or personal leave, must be used if you become ill with COVID-19.
We are negotiating with the City to determine what happens if you have a reaction to the vaccine (serious or otherwise) and are unable to work, as well as what happens if you receive a positive test for COVID. Members should follow existing policies for COVID exposure and isolation until modified. We expect additional guidance early next week.
The City will follow CDC guidance as to what constitutes full vaccination. Thus, if the CDC requires booster shots in the future, the City will update these requirements. At this time, boosters are recommended for certain populations but are not required to be considered fully vaccinated.
Members should continue to request accommodations in accordance with Policy 1737 from the Department if they have medical and/or religious concerns. If you are subject to an accommodation request that has not been granted, please contact HR directly to seek guidance.
Since today marked our first opportunity to speak with the City, we are just beginning this discussion. We remain committed to taking aggressive and immediate action if our members will be disciplined or irreparably harmed by the Policy. We will continue to advocate for all our members to ensure the policy is fair, reasonable, and clear moving forward. This is not the end of the discussion.
Key bullet points
- Uploading your vaccination status into Workday is secure and compliant with all laws protecting employee health data.
- It is our understanding at this time that no discipline is going to occur as the policy is implemented.
- You are not required to upload vaccination confirmation. Employees who do not upload their vaccination status will be treated as unvaccinated employees for the purposes of the policy.
- Employees without vaccination confirmation will schedule their own testing dates and times on a weekly basis once notified to do so by HR.
- Testing, if required, will be during work time and at the City’s expense. Details regarding officers assigned to midnight shift or other non-business hours are being negotiated.
- The City will provide time during work hours for employees to be vaccinated against COVID. Details are being worked out for midnight shift officers.
- We are still negotiating with the City over the procedures for positive tests and leave time. Current policies regarding positive tests will remain in effect in the interim.
Although the immediate crisis that was precipitated by the City’s unwillingness to talk to us has been avoided, we remain cautious and diligent in the protection of our members’ rights as the process moves forward. Should you have any questions please address them in an email to [email protected]. This account is monitored 24/7.
Thank you all for your patience.
Baltimore City FOP3